Tag Archives: play

been | six degrees of separation

MiNDFOOD SEASON of Six degrees of separation by John Guare, presented by Auckland Theatre Company, exposes the vacuous culture of glitz and greed that so clearly defined the ‘80s. “A story based on real life events depicts the lives of suave, sophisticated and wealthy Manhattan art dealers Flan and Ouisa Kittredge. The Kittredges are all about keeping up appearances but their world of comfort and respectability is turned upside down with the sudden arrival of a charming stranger.”

In Six Degrees of Separation, characters from various backgrounds are thrown together in unexpected situations, and we watch them as they endear themselves to each other, enrage each other, and unravel ultimately to a point of self examination brought on by the charming stranger/con artist.

The result is both humanizing and condemning, leaving us to ponder on what we value, who we care about, and why. Exploring existential ideas, the play delves into a purposeless society with friendships driven by agenda, loneliness and Sisyphean task painted by the never-ending cycle of making enough to sustain their carefully constructed world of privilege.

Notably, the title “Six degrees of separation” plays only a small part in the play, and the theme of inter-connectivity between all people falls in behind more dominant themes of class and race.

Jennifer Ward-Lealand plays Ouisa Kittredge with a commanding stage presence, her nuanced portrayal of a Manhattan socialite with confused sense of self, pretentious and greedy on one side to someone with an inner need for authenticity and meaningful relationships is near perfection.

Andrew Grainger’s Flan Kittredge, is Ouisa’s supportive husband desperately trying to ensure their place in Manhattan society. We feel a tinge of pity for him at the start however as the plot unravels, with his character clinging on to his false persona and his refusal to self examine becomes unnerving to watch. 

Tane Williams-Accra plays Paul the charming stranger posing as a friend of Kittredge’s children, his somewhat awkward beginning is promptly overshadowed by his natural charisma that endears him to his unlikely hosts. He enthrals his unwitting ‘targets’ and the audience alike with his thoughtful ideologies on art, literature, philosophy; a stark contrast to the insecure, bratty and over privileged children of Kittredge as we witness later on in the play.  

One of the key symbols explored in Six Degrees of Separation is a double-sided painting, that Flan Kittredge describes as “one side geometric and sombre. The other side is wild and vivid and adds “We flip it around for variety”  The painting is attributed to Wasily Kandinsky, a celebrated artist whose career spanned the turn of the last century. Ouisa Kittredge explains the nature of the painting and how it is symbolic of the chaotic side of the painting’s dualism. She says: “Chaos, control. Chaos, control. You like, you like?” Making this the question that explains the dual role of the play in its relationship to the art. Though it is about the wealthy and their world it is quite apparent that the notion of chaos and control are very cleverly placed in the art symbolism.

Kandinsky painting holds a place in this production as an example of the dual nature of the play and it’s plot. On one side is the security of the wealthy New York family, while on the other side is the character Paul who is from the streets and possesses an extraordinary intelligence, that is used to con the people that he involves himself with. 

 

Overall a highly entertaining, thought provoking and relevant production. Six Degrees of Separation is showing until 30th August at ASB Waterfront Theatre..

been | The Book Of Everything

The Book Of Everything returns to the Auckland stage at Q Theatre after a successful run last year. It is an adaptation of a children’s book of the same name by Dutch Author Guus Kuijer. Author and playwright Richard Tulloch has done a fantastic job transforming the book into a play, celebrating the boundless power of imagination while providing a lesson about bravery in life. With superb direction by Sophie Roberts, The Book Of Everything is an entertaining theatrical experience to be sure.

seen | Not Psycho

Not Psycho is a brilliantly written and directed play that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. If you’re a Hitchcock fan and love psychological thrillers this is THE show for you.

Not Psycho is a mesh-mash of ‘slasher film tropes’ blurring the line of what’s real and what’s imaginary, it is so full of twists and turns it will have you reeling. The story follows a young man named Matthew who works at a video store based in 1990s Manchester. Within minutes you realise things aren’t right between him and his psychotic mother. Matthew soon encounters an unwelcome group of misfits whom helps or hinders his recollection of his past throwing him into a wrath of delusions or unnerving realities. You sympathise with Matthew, you worry for him, you fear for him and you want to end it for him. The story is confusing, it is unsettling but it is hypnotic, intense and gripping to watch.

I got an email last Wednesday morning asking if I could review a show, as I skimmed through the email I came by two words that turned me still, Not Psycho. “Is it a film I wonder? Is it going to be scary? Holy sh*t I don’t do well with horror!” Those were my thoughts but I said yes anyway and I do not regret it.

Saturday rolls by and my partner and I were queuing, next to us stood a chalkboard which said: “Contains nudity, sexual themes, violence, strobe + haze”. I thought to myself “Oh yeah, this is my kind of show” while my partner said aloud “… my gosh, what are we watching?”. We walked past a pile of unraveled VHS tapes on the floor before turning down a dark and curtained corridor. The stage divided the room like a catwalk, seen from either side of the stage is a subtly lit frame framing the setting like a wide screen television. In the middle of the stage was a shower head, shower drain and there lay a naked body wrapped in clear plastic. The environment is cold, clinical and sterile, it was like looking into an autopsy room. Low tech stage effects such as LED lights and the use of a smoke machine added to the illusion and I really loved the metallic echoes used with some of the dialogue, that added an extra element of eeriness to the play. There was blood, there was screaming, there were definitely a lot of flashing of skin and underwear. Take me seriously when I say this and I know this line is thrown about quite often, but this show should not to be missed.

 

WHEN:  Tuesday – Saturday 8:30pm (August 15 – 29)

WHERE:  The Loft @ Q Theatre (305 Queen Street CBD, AUCKLAND)

TICKETS: Adults $34.00, Concessions $28.00

(Fees apply for online booking, credit & postage)

 

BUY TICKETS  |  MORE INFO  |  Q THEATRE  |  INTERVEW : VIRGINIA FRANKOVICH

 

Words & Direction: Benjamin Henson
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Performance: Edwin Beats, Julia Croft, Virginia Frankovich, Kevin Keys, Donogh Rees, Bryony Skillington
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Set Design: Christine Urquhart
Lighting Design: Rachel Marlow
Sound Design: Thomas Press
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In partnership with: Q Theatre as part of Q Presents
Supported by: Arts Alive, Creative New Zealand, Höpt
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Produced by: Fractious Tash

been | Earnest @ Q

More than often when attending a live performance of any sorts, most of us will have done our homework on what to expect thoroughly, ensuring the event would guarantee money well spent and worthy of our precious time. Some would even come armed with a plethora of preconceived opinions, ready to scrutinize every minute details. Me, I picked up the program for “Earnest” after its curtain fell.

Well, there was no curtain to be drawn since the play unfolded on center stage of Q Theatre’s intimate studio Loft. The all male cast and all female band – intentional or not – screamed double entendre to those of us well acquainted with many overly zealous interpretations of Wilde’s last and indisputably most famous work. This first time collaboration between Last Tapes Theatre Company and Fractious Tash showcased our beloved characters in a refreshing new light with a healthy serving of Cher. The cabaret style rendition was a sure hit with the audience on opening night.

cast and band – photo’s credit Tatiana Harper

As confessed, I turned a blind eye to the production’s brief and any pre-show reading material which Google would have happily provided. Still glad I did! The performance was a feast to the heart. Not even my delicious cucumber infused Hendriks could trump the sweet puns flamboyantly delivered by Lady Bracknell (Stephen Butterworth) or Cecily (Eli Matthewson) and Gwendolen (Oscar Wilson)’s bitch fight. Enough said about the “girls”, the boys shone too, especially Jordan Mooney –  who breathed as much witty exuberance into Algy Moncrieff’s decorative personality as the character himself was written to be, perhaps a little more.

Cecily vs Gwendolen – photo’s credit Tatiana Harper

The play goes on nightly until Saturday 6th September (get your tickets here). To the avid Oscar Wilde’s fan, leave everything you thought you knew at home and allow yourself to indulge in this revamped quintessential comedy. To all theatrically intrigued others, give this one a go, because judging by the amount of fun the cast appeared to have, it sure will get wilder.

1DP | Day 77 of 100 Days, 100 Individuals

With a career that began over a decade ago in Australia, we’re glad to have our latest individual back in New Zealand.  Meet Erroll Shand.  He’s a face you’ll be familiar with, he’s been in everything from Underbelly: Land of the Long Green Cloud, Outrageous Fortune, the Almighty Johnsons, Sunny Skies and Shortland Street to TV3’s most recent hit drama Harry.  Erroll’s taking a break from the silver screen and stepping onto the stage for Patrick Marber’s After Miss Julie, which opened at the Basement Theatre yesterday.  We talk to him on Day 77 of our 100 Day Project.

What’s your biggest fear?

Not being in control, in a physical sense, of my life: You know, like driving somewhere, in the middle of who knows where and the driver of the bus doesn’t speak any English, is chain smoking, chatting on a mobile phone and over taking other cars on blind corners whilst you are in the mountains on the wrong side of the road in fog and snow and the drop from the road (with no barrier) is 3000m above sea level.

It’s not the possible death bit I fear, it’s the fact that I have no control over an outcome, which could impact my whanau. (FYI I’m not in that situation very often).

Whats your purpose in life?

I reckon it would have to be – not to give in, and achieve what I have my heart/ head set on doing in Erroll time, no one else’s.  It might not happen overnight but I’ll give (whatever it is)  a crack.

What are you passionate about?

Putting 100 % in to any gig I do, as any gig maybe my last. Who knows when I could end up in the mountains again eh.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

At the moment “Insanity”. – as in, a daily routine some dude in the States has worked out to get your heart started and your body moving and by the end of it you’re just a sweaty pathetic mess. It hasn’t broken me – but it’s pretty humbling.

Everyone has a dirty little secret, what’s yours?

Wow. Maybe that I have too many, where does one start.

If today was your last day on earth, what would you do?

Climb a mountain would be pretty darn cool.

What is your happy place?

I love being in the elements and experiencing nature. Love it. love it love it. Bush, sea, coastline, valleys, snow… you name it.

What will you be doing for the rest of 2013?

In my business that’s a damn good question but I’ll pop up somewhere fingers crossed. In the mean time I am getting pretty excited about getting my Marber on.

I love a good juicy play.

After Miss Julie is running until Saturday 7 September.  For more information, visit Basement’s website.

seen | Motel

Motel:  (n)  Temporary roadside accommodation for people passing through.

The age old adage, ‘nothing is what it seems’ comes to mind when seeing a play about the lives of those we encounter in a seedy motel. It seems apt that we do not take everything we witness at face value.  Written by award-winning playwright April Phillips and directed by Todd Rippon, Motel permits you to glimpse into the world of eight different characters via four different stories in one rundown motel room. From the moment you enter the theatre and discern the rather sordid appearance of the stage, you’re made aware of how intimately the audience is situated. There is barely any space between the audience and the actors adding to the illusion that you are, in fact, a fly on the wall of the room seeing every little detail of these characters’ stay.

The characters are ordinary by design, caught up in out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, forced to make decisions that are morally suspect. You find yourself calling your own judgement into question, if faced with the same situation how would you handle yourself? You note Jenny’s apprehension about sleeping with a stranger and understand her turmoil given her reasons. Harry and Pearl’s search for peace is intriguing and melancholic. The rather optimistic traveling salesman has his patience, and eventually his marriage, tested thanks to the one character we see in each story- the Manager. Annabel’s casual affair takes a turn for the worst in the last vignette and you’re left in your seat feeling slightly chilled.

The writing and direction really allow the cast of  Kenneth Blackburn, Lorae Parry, Peter Hayden, Renée Sheriden, Ruth Dudding, Coen Falke, Leisha Ward-Knox and Cameron Rhodes, to give some strong performances. This is definitely a play worth checking out, a play that takes some old cliches, lonely housewives, doting fathers, thrill seeking adulterers to name a few, and turns them on their heads. You’ll wonder, if given the circumstances, you would do anything different to the characters you observe.

What we get is an engaging play about life, love, death and transparent walls which manages to obscure almost as much as they reveal. What we may come to realise is that life, itself, is a motel and we’re only here for a short amount of time before we move on. No matter how long our stay, it’s still only temporary.

Motel plays from the 13th – 24th of August 2013, 8.00 pm
With 4.00 pm Matinees on Saturday 17th and Saturday 24th
At the Basement, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD.
Tickets are $25 – $30 (booking fees may apply).
You can book on at iTicket – www.iticket.co.nz or 09 361 1000.

For more information or just to read more about the play, check out the website MotelThePlay.